It always looks so inviting—and easy. The colorful sail, a lone figure standing on a board cutting across the water with nary a care in the world. But anyone who has tried his or her hand at windsurfing knows that it's a lot tougher than it looks. So before you decline an invitation to take a board out this summer (too intimidating) or make a fool of yourself getting stranded hundreds of yards from shore (too confident), check out a few webstations that offer windsurfing advice, tips, and equipment.
Windsurfing Technique Forum
Out on the lake without a paddle and without a clue about how to point into the wind? Then visit Marc Lefebvre's Windsurfing Technique Forum before you get up on a board. The forum is a receptacle of articles that will, with a little patience, help you master all the basics of windsurfing. The safety section is a good place to start, with words of warning from experienced windsurfers about offshore breezes and assessing your current physical condition before you push yourself too hard. There are also recommendations concerning personal floatation devices. To help you get up and stay on the board, there's a set of step-by-step instructions on how to pull your sail out of the water without wrenching your back. More experienced windsurfers will also find help here in the form of suggestions on how to tune your board, such as properly adjusting the mast track or boom height. Even if you're a sailor and think you know what to do, the stories and tips at the Windsurfing Technique Forum will prevent your sail from luffing so that the folks in the beach gallery think you're a pro.
The largest magazine devoted to the sport of windsurfing is the naturally enough titled WindSurfing Magazine. It isn't in mass circulation, but fortunately the publication runs this webstation so that you can get many of the magazine's articles anywhere, anytime. To get you in the mood, there's a gallery of wild windsurfing shots (don't try this the first time out). Once you get the wind in your blood, you can peruse a section devoted to tips and tricks, such as advice on how to handle rough conditions by taking a wider boom grip for better control and how to duck the sail when the water gets choppy. For those looking for a board-sailing getaway, there are travel suggestions for windsurfers around the world, such as the Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean. Most of the travel ideas have a promotional air—rather than a critical eye--often accompanied by comments from local businesses, but it will give you some ideas. If you're considering getting your own setup for the roof rack, WindSurfing Online also has a series of reviews on boards and rigs. The buying guide was originally published last year, but the information on longboards for casual surfing and slalom boards for serious enthusiasts will be helpful for shoppers this season. WindSurfing Magazine certainly could do more to keep its site up to date, but novitiates will find some helpful articles here nevertheless.
Let's face it: Guys are into gear. So to do a little online screen shopping, check out the Mistral site. Mistral makes some of the leading windsurfing boards on the market today, sponsoring popular competitions and races. The site sails the cybersurf with a catalogue of its extensive line, which ranges from the rakish SLE 272 Slalom High Wind model for ocean racers to the leggy Malibu 325 for those seeking stability and maneuverability. Prices are not included (you don't want to know), but all the stats are here. You can even check out the One Design boards used in the Olympics. In addition to the catalogue, there are several articles online, including one touting the wind and water of Aruba (what's not to like?) and another recounting a windsurfing trek from Sardinia to Corsica (now you'll be envious). It's all presented in a slick package with loads of pictures of boarders flying over waves and sailing toward sun-drenched shores.
Windsurfer.com now defunct
Finally, for a pure compendium of Net resources for the cybersurfing windsurfer, there's Windsurfer.com. At the site you'll find a list of manufacturers, catalogs, and travel companies. For online shopping, there's the Windsurfing Webhouse that offers a complete line of products. American Windsurfer magazine has a spot here too, with a few articles, photos, and one or two video clips. For other board sailors' comments, there's a separate section of Internet reviews with appraisals of different boards and remote sailing spots. A separate chapter even offers maps for those of us who are geographically challenged. And Windsurfer.com tries to appease the expert and beginner alike with information on racing and windsurfing organizations as well as tips for novices. You may encounter a few white caps here, though. I found the Windsurfer.com server often unresponsive and extremely slow.